Part 2: A Closer Look at How Minorities are Arrested More for Marijuana Charges

iStock_000009135835_ExtraSmall.jpgPossession of marijuana charges are serious situations. Even the lightest charge, which would be a class B misdemeanor for possessing 2 ounces or less, can still have staggering consequences.. The best way to avoid the consequences of a charge is to not commit the crime. However, no system is perfect, and today’s law enforcement and judicial system is exemplary of this principle. The ACLU just released a report that said that minorities were 400% more likely be arrested for a marijuana offense. Lead author of the report, Ezekiel Edwards, told the New York Times. “We found that in virtually every county in the country, police have wasted taxpayer money enforcing marijuana laws in a racially biased manner.”

The raw data behind the reports is staggering. Each state had different numbers, but New York State had the most possession of marijuana arrests in 2010 with more than 100,000 arrests. Id. While New York State ranked highest in arrests, the highest population arrest rate belonged to Washington D.C., with 846 arrests per 100,000 residents. Id. Iowa earned a special note as having the “the most egregious racial disparity… where black residents were eight times more likely to be arrested for a marijuana-related charge than whites.” Id.

Why should this concern you? The answer lies in the concept of constructive possession. Constructive possession means controlling a piece of property, including contraband, without physically holding it. For example, when we leave our car parked in a parking lot, we are still exerting constructive possession over it. Or when we leave our house locked and we go out for the night, we are still exercising constructive possession of the house. Constructive possession appears in drug cases usually when there is contraband found in a car during a traffic stop. For example, if an officer pulls a car over for speeding and notices marijuana in the backseat, the question is “who is exercising constructive possession of this contraband”?

If there are multiple people in the car, the question becomes even trickier. With this in mind, statistics show that minorities are more likely to be charged with a possession charge, which can be concerning in ambiguous situations such as constructive possession cases. The ACLU report also targets Texas. Texas matched New York in marijuana arrests; in 2010, they both had the most arrests for marijuana with 97% being possession charges. Texas has one of the highest Latino-white disparities. Id. Not all arrests are rooted in the truth; some of them are rooted in racial bias.

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Gilbert Garcia has been Passionately Pursuing Justice for over 30 years and founded The Gilbert G. Garcia Law Firm in 2008. The Gilbert G. Garcia Law Firm is a boutique law firm, specializing in Criminal Defense. Gilbert represents adults and juveniles accused of a crime and who have with a felony, misdemeanor or record cleaning case. Conveniently located on the courthouse square to serve Montgomery and Walker Counties. Gilbert became Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization in 1989. The Gilbert G. Garcia Law Firm is located at 220 N. Thompson St., Suite 202, Conroe, TX 77301.

Drug Related Charges may include: Possession of Marijuana, Possession of Controlled Substance, Possession of Dangerous Drug, Manufacturing a Dangerous Drug/Controlled Substance, Delivery or Intent to Deliver Marijuana/Dangerous Drug/Controlled Substance, Possession of Drug Paraphernalia and many other drug related charges.